This class, I wanted to have a conversation about possible topics that kids could be interested in for doing a data analysis. I was nervous that the kids wouldn’t pick engaging topics, so I planned an open conversation that would allow them to bring their ideas forward. This is how the class went.

It Went Well

The class went pretty well. Saying a class or a meeting merely “went well” isn’t usually my favorite measure. It translates to “didn’t provide anyone with undue emotional strain, but wasn’t that noteworthy either.” I’d have liked to have more tangible takeaways but an exit ticket asking: “Will you eventually come to loathe the research topic we discussed today, this project, and everything about math?” might not give valuable data.

Class began finishing discussing the sampling activity that we did in the last class. I then picked a few presidential polls and asked the kids to read their descriptions of their sampling methodology. My inital plan was to have them just skim it,  but in the moment I decided to ask people to read different parts and then share out what stood out to them. We then talked about the different sample sizes and strategies that these professional surveys use, and how they relate to these differences in our sampling exercise yesterday. We also talked about this whole mysterious “margin of error” that each group saw and said we’ll get back to after we talk about Standard Deviation.

At this point in class the kids looked as enthusiastic as the waiting room for having blood work done. Luckily we smashed through it with the plan I had from yesterday’s blog. After briefly talking through the above powerpoint the kids looked up topics and shared them out. Halfway through the share out the class mood went from glower to empower, and the kids looked like they were really engaged. I think I should have had them immediately think about how they could quantifying some of their topics. For example, one group wanted to know about partying, I should have asked them to think about all of the things that could be measured in terms of partying. We essentially finished all the conversation with some time to spare, so pushing kids to start thinking about the next step would have made this class a little more noteworthy.

A Word About Blogging

Now, I initially wrote my thoughts down about this during the class yesterday, and yet I’m not sitting down to write this until I’m getting ready to plan this class for tomorrow. I’ve been taking the steps to do some reflection after each class, even if it’s gibberish, and then I return to it when I want to publish this. This is part of my new plan to blog more, but these after-class reflections would be useful for anyone regardless of whether they plan on blogging about it. Maybe I’ll blog about these reflections in a future post.